Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vacations are Great, but There is No Place Like Home (Part One)

Vacations are wonderful--especially when you spend them with people you love.  Our recent vacation to the east coast was wonderful.  It was filled with family and awesome places as the wife and I got to spend time with my two brothers and sisters.  We also got to go to the Asheville, North Carolina area, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area, and the Hagerstown, Maryland area.  It was quite an adventure for two rural hicks from the sticks of Montana--an eye-opening adventure!

Hagerstown Suns Baseball Game

Less than two hours after our flight from Montana I was at a Hagerstown Suns baseball game with my two brothers--David and Mark.  This was a first for the three of us as it was probably the first time in our lives that we ever did anything together.  Despite a hour rain delay we had a pretty good time watching the Suns go down in defeat.  The Suns are a AA minor league affiliate of the Washington, DC Nationals.  It was not even a close game, but the dollar beer took the edge off of the game.  It was fun, but made for a long day.  I guess the biggest surprise of the night was how knowledgeable my brothers were about the game of baseball!

The next morning my sister, the wife, and I took off for Asheville, North Carolina to spend a couple of days--that was if we survived the eight hour drive.  I guess that the wife and I have now spend to much of our lives living in rural areas where the traffic doesn't compare to what we witnessed on the drive down to North Carolina.  Lets just say that there were times when it was white-knuckle and I wasn't even the one doing the driving.  I think I saw more motor vehicles in that eight hours than I have seen since moving to Montana!  I admire my sister's ability and skill to drive in such crazy traffic--I'd probably be shot if I had to do that sort of driving all of the time because I am sure that my sign language would offend someone.  Despite the traffic and a few torrential showers we made it to Asheville.

That first evening we spent our time in downtown Asheville.  Asheville is quite the community and it prides itself on its artistic and hospitable downtown where people gather for all sorts of fun things--primarily shopping, eating, drinking, and enjoying the spectacles of all the other people gathered there.  While downtown we hit a semi-religious pub (the Thirsty Monk), saw some interesting street performers, ate at a brewery/pizza joint, and browsed the shops.  Primarily we were lost, but it was fun.

The Thirsty Monk--two floors of "spiritual enlightenment"

Street Performer--place a donation in the vase and she performed

Barley's--good pizza and brew

The next morning we hit downtown Asheville as the wife wanted to have a "southern" breakfast at the Early Girl Eatery.  Now this is all that fancy "southern" stuff and it seems to be quite popular as we had to wait for nearly 45 minutes to get a seat.  After a hearty breakfast adventure we headed over to the cathedral--Basilica Saint Lawrence--a impressive place of worship for the Catholic Church.  Then it was back to the center of downtown to do some browsing through the shops and the sights.  There is quite a history of writers and artists in the community of Asheville--O. Henry who wrote one of my favorite short stories called The Gift of the Magi was featured on one of the sidewalk markers.  After some more browsing around the shops we headed off to the big tourist attraction--the Biltmore Estates, the home of the Vanderbilts.

Southern cooking at its fanciest and best--the Early Girl Eatery

Basilica of Saint Lawrence

O. Henry--The Gift of the Magi Tribute

The "art" of Asheville

Gotta get that dessert

Around the Biltmore Estate are a variety of high-end shops for the tourists to explore--lots of nice stuff that made one drool and wish that he or she had been a Vanderbilt.  There is also the second religious "hot spot" that the wife wanted to visited--the All Souls Cathedral (an Episcopalian Church).  Despite the wife's disappointment in not being able to get into the church to look around she did find a lot of stuff that she drooled over and wanted.  As the women shopped I took pictures.

Garden decorations 

 Beer cap fish--project for the youngest son

 And, of course, a moose 

From the Biltmore area of Asheville we headed off to the first highlight of the day for me--the Wedge brewery.  This was an eclectic place in which we sat in the heat of the day in the patio area and shared our brews with the pigeons.  From there it was off to the second highlight of my day--a Asheville Tourist baseball game.  The Tourists are a double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and the free give-a-way was a rubber playground ball.  Miss North Carolina was the one passing out the free playground balls--quite a glamorous job for being the best looking woman in North Carolina.  Makes one wonder about those southerns!But our first stop was to grab something to drink and eat at Wild Wings just down the street from the stadium.  The game, unfortunately, was another blowout with the Tourists taking a beating.

The Wedge Brewery--a brewery with a "social conscious" 

One of the "regulars"

Asheville Tourists

The big free give-a-way!

 Miss North Carolina relegated to handing out free playground balls--glamour of it all!

 The Tourist mascots.

Play ball!

After a long day playing in hot and humid Asheville we all headed back to the hotel to get some much needed rest for the next big day of playing in the area.  More to come . . . 

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